Found in: Turkish cuisine
Turkish cuisine is largely the heritage of Ottoman cuisine, which can be described as a fusion and refinement of Central Asian, Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisines. Turkish cuisine also influenced these cuisines and other neighbouring cuisines, as well as western European cuisines. The Ottomans fused various culinary traditions of their realm with influences from Middle Eastern cuisines, along with traditional Turkic elements from Central Asia such as yogurt. The Ottoman Empire indeed created a vast array of technical specialities. It can be observed that various regions of the Ottoman Empire contain varying selections from the vast array of Ottoman dishes.
Taken as a whole, Turkish cuisine is not homogeneous. Aside from common Turkish specialities that can be found throughout the country, there are also many region-specific specialities. The Black Sea region's cuisine (northern Turkey) is based on corn and anchovies. The southeastUrfa, Gaziantep and Adanais famous for its kebabs, mezes and dough-based desserts such as baklava, kadayif and kunefe. Especially in the western parts of Turkey, where olive trees are grown abundantly, olive oil is the major type of oil used for cooking. The cuisines of the Aegean, Marmara and Mediterranean regions display basic characteristics of Mediterranean cuisine as they are rich in vegetables, herbs, and fish. Central Anatolia is famous for its pastry specialities such as kekek (kashkak), manti (especially of Kayseri) and gozleme.
The name of specialities sometimes includes the name of a city or a region (either in Turkey or outside). This suggests that a dish is a speciality of that area, or may refer to the specific technique or ingredients used in that area. For example, the difference between Urfa kebab and Adana kebab is the use of garlic instead of onion and the larger amount of hot pepper that kebab contains.
Turkish culinary customs
A typical Turkish breakfast consists of cheese , butter, olives, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, recel and honey. Sucuk/sujuk (spicy Turkish sausage), pastirma, borek, simit, pogaca and even soups can be taken as a morning meal in Turkey. A common Turkish speciality for breakfast is called menemen, which is prepared with roasted tomatoes, peppers, olive oil and eggs. Invariably, black tea is served at breakfast. Coffee has affected Turkish culture so much that the Turkish word for breakfast, "kahvalti" literally means "before coffee" (kahve 'coffee' alti 'before').
Although fast food is gaining popularity and many major fast food chains have opened all over Turkey, Turkish people still rely primarily on the rich and extensive dishes of the Turkish cuisine. In addition, some traditional Turkish foods, especially kofte, doner, borek and gozleme are often served in fast food style in Turkey. Eating out has always been common in large commercial cities. Esnaf lokantasi (meaning restaurants for shopkeepers and tradesman) are widespread, serving traditional Turkish home cooking at affordable prices.
In the hot summer, many Turks prefer to have a lighter meal with summer vegetables and fruits. A summer meal is usually made up of fried vegetables served with yoghurt or tomato sauce, sheep's cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelons, melons, and summer helva, which is lighter and less sweet than regular helva.
Frequently-used ingredients in Turkish specialities include: meat, eggplants, green peppers, onions, garlic, lentils, beans, tomatoes. Nuts, especially pistachios, pine nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts, together with spices, have a special place in Turkish cuisine. A great variety of spices are sold at the Spice Bazaar (Misir Carisi). Preferred spices and herbs include parsley, cumin, black pepper, paprika, mint, oregano and thyme.
Oils and fats
Butter or margarine, olive oil, sunflower oil and corn oil are widely used for cooking. Kuyruk yagi (tail fat of sheep) is used mainly in kebabs and meat dishes. Sesame, hazelnut and walnut oils are used as well.
Use of fruit
In the Ottoman cuisine, the combination of fruit with meat was quite frequent. Plums, apricots, apples, grapes, and figs are the most frequently used fruits (either fresh or dried) in Turkish cuisine. For example, komposto (compote) or hoaf are among the main side dishes to meat or pilav. Dolma and pilaf usually contain currants or raisins. Etli yaprak sarma (vine leaves stuffed with meat and rice) used to be cooked with sour plums in Ottoman cuisine.
Use of eggplant
Eggplant has a special place in the Turkish cuisine. It is combined with minced meat in karniyarik. As a speciality of eastern Turkey, there are patlican kebabs, such as Tokat Kebab, a specialty of Tokat province or Antep's eggplant kebab. In a large number of mezes, side-dishes or main dishes, including akuka, patlican salatasi , patlican dolma ("filled eggplant"), hunkar begendi (eggplant puree prepared with cheese and traditionally served with lamb stew), imam bayildi, and moussaka, eggplant appears to be the major element. It is also used for making aubergine jam ("Patlican receli") in Antalya province.
Milk-fed lambs, the most popular source of meat, have a very low yield today. For example Kuzu cevirme, cooking the milk-fed lamb by turning it above fire, once an important ceremony, cannot be seen anymore. In some regions, meat, which was mostly eaten only at wedding ceremonies or during the Kurban Bayrami (Eid ul-Adha) as etli pilav (pilaf with meat), became a part of the daily diet after the introduction of industrial production. Veal, which was usually shunned, became widespread. However, the main use of meat in cooking is still putting minced meat into vegetable dishes, thus attaining names such as kiymali fasulye (bean with minced meat) or kiymali ispanak . Alternatively, in coastal towns, cheap fish such as sardines (sardalya) or anchovies (hamsi) is widespread. Combining meat with vegetables or rice or putting meat in soups or in Turkish salty pastries borek or gozleme is typical.
Yoghurt is an important element in Turkish cuisine. In fact, the English word yoghurt or yogurt derives from the Turkish word yogurt. Yoghurt can accompany almost all meat dishes , vegetable dishes , meze and a speciality called manti (folded triangles of dough containing minced meat). In villages, yoghurt is regularly eaten with rice or bread. A thicker, higher-fat variety, suzme yogurt or "strained yoghurt", is made by straining the yoghurt curds from the whey. One of the most common Turkish drinks, ayran, is made from yoghurt. Also, yoghurt is often used in the preparation of cakes, some soups and pastries.
Turkey produces many varieties of cheese, mostly from sheep's milk. In general, these cheeses are not long matured, with a comparatively low fat content. The production of many kinds of cheese is local to particular regions. The following is only a selection.
Beyaz peynir is a salty cheese taking its name from its white color ("white cheese"). It is analogous to Greek feta. This is produced in styles ranging from unmatured cheese curds to a quite strong mature version. It is eaten plain (e.g. as part of the traditional Turkish breakfast), used in salads, and incorporated into cooked foods such as menemen, borek and pide.
Cokelek is one of two types of unsalted white cheese, made by boiling the whey left over from making beyaz peynir. There are many regional varieties of cokelek. Some are eaten fresh while others are preserved, either by storage in goatskin bags or pottery jars, or by drying in the sun. Kurut and ke are regional names for dried bricks of yoghurt made from low-fat milk or from cokelek made from buttermilk.
Lor is the other type of unsalted white cheese, similarly made from the whey left over from kaar manufacture. Lor is used in traditional desserts made from unsalted cheese like homerim.
Kaar is Turkey's other ubiquitous cheese, a moderately fatty sheep's cheese similar to the Greek kasseri. Less matured kaar, called fresh kaar, is widely consumed as well.
Kakaval is a wheel-shaped yellow sheep's cheese, similar to fresh kaar. The name probably derives from the Italian caciocavallo.
Otlu peynir ("herbed cheese") is produced in many areas, chiefly in East Anatolia. Traditionally sheep's or goat's milk is used, but more recently cow's milk otlu peynir has been produced. The type of herb used varies by region: in Van wild garlic is traditional; Bitlis otlu peynir contains a damp-loving herb known as sof otu. In other areas horse mint (Mentha longifolia) and Pimpinella rhodentha are used.
Hellim is a salty, firm-textured cheese, generally with some mint added, made in Cyprus. In Turkey, it is common that hellim is fried in a pan with some olive oil.
Gravyer (analogous to Swiss gruyere) is produced in Turkey as well. Among others, Kars is famous for its graviera.
Mihalic peyniri or Kelle peyniri is a hard sheep's cheese that can be grated, like Parmesan cheese. Sometimes goat or cow milk is used. It is a specialty from Balikesir.
Orgu peyniri, "braided cheese", is a specialty from Diyarbakir.
Cerkez peyniri, "Circassian cheese", somewhat similar to mild cheddar cheese.
A Turkish meal usually starts with a thin soup (corba). Soups are usually named after their main ingredient, the most common types being lentil, yoghurt, or wheat (often mashed) called mercimek corbasi and tarhana corbasi. Delicacy soups are the ones that are usually not the part of the daily diet, like (shkembe) Ikembe soup and paca corbasi, although the latter also used to be consumed as a nutritious winter meal. Before the popularisation of the typical Turkish breakfast, soup was the default morning meal for some people. The most common soups in Turkish cuisine are;
Bugday ai/Yogurt Corbasi/Ayran Corbasi (which can be served hot or cold)
Domates (Tomato soup)
Mercimek (Lentil soup)
Dugun (Wedding soup)
Bademli Tavuk (Chicken soup with almond)
Tutmac (Lentil dish with noodles)
Lahana Soup (With lamb)
Tandir bread (baked on the inner walls of a round oven called tandir)
Turkish cuisine has a range of savoury and sweet pastries. Dough based specialities form an integral part of traditional Turkish cuisine.
The use of flattened dough is rooted in the early nomadic character of Central Asian Turks. Sac, which has been described by some writers as a "primitive" instrument, was indeed a simple instrument; it was easy to carry and use it. However, that "primitive" instrument is the tool through which Turks baked rolled out dough. Both Sac and oklahu/oklava (the Turkish rod-style rolling pin) account for the invention of the layered dough style used in borek , gullac or baklava.
Borek is the general name for salty pastries made with yufka (phyllo dough), which consists of very thin layers of dough. Su boregi, made with boiled yufka/phyllo layers, cheese and parsley, is the most frequently eaten. Cig borek (also known as Tatar boregi) is fried and stuffed with minced meat. Kol boregi is another well-known type of borek that takes its name from its shape, as do fincan (coffee cup), muska (talisman), Gul boregi (rose) or Sigara boregi (cigarette). Other traditional Turkish boreks include Tala boregi (phyllo dough filled with vegetables and diced meat), Puf boregi. Laz boregi is a sweet type of borek, widespread in the Black Sea region.
Pogaca is the label name for dough based salty pastries. Likewise corek is another label name used for both sweet and salty pastries.
Gozleme is a food typical in rural areas, made of lavash bread or phyllo dough folded around a variety of fillings such as spinach, cheese and parsley, minced meat or potatoes and cooked on a large griddle (traditionally sac).
Katmer is another traditional rolled out dough. It can be salty or sweet according to the filling.
Lahmacun (meaning dough with meat in Arabic) is a thin flatbread covered with a layer of spiced minced meat, tomatoe, pepper, onion or garlic.
Pide, which can be made with minced meat , kashar cheese, spinach, white cheese, pieces of meat, braised meat (kavurma), sucuk, pastirma or/and eggs put on rolled-out dough, is one of the most common traditional stone-baked Turkish specialities.
Acma is a soft bread found in most parts of Turkey. It is similar to simit in shape, is covered in a glaze with sesame seeds and is usually eaten as part of a healthy breakfast.
Turkish pilaf(s) and pastas
It is a common belief that the taste of pilav comes from the butter and stock used for cooking it. However, nowadays most people prefer olive oil to butter.
Sade pilav/pilaf: ordinary rice, which can accompany almost all dishes.
Etli pilav: rice containing meat pieces.
Nohutlu pilav: rice cooked with chickpeas
Ic pilav: rice with liver slices, currants, peanuts, chestnut, cinnamon and a variety of herbs
Patlicanli pilav: rice with eggplant.
Ozbek pilavi: rice with lamb, onion, tomato, carrot.
Acem pilavi: rice with lamb, cooked in meat broth with pistachios, cinnamon etc.
Bulgur : a cereal food generally made of durum wheat. Most of the time, tomato, green pepper and minced meat are mixed with bulgur. The Turkish name (bulgur pilavi) indicates that this is a kind of rice but it is, in fact, wheat.
Perde pilavi: rice with chicken, onion and peanuts enveloped in a thin layer of dough, topped with almonds.
Manti: Turkish pasta that consists of folded triangles of dough filled with minced meat, often with minced onions and parsley. It is typically served hot topped with garlic yoghurt and melted butter or warmed olive oil, and a range of spices such as oregano, dried mint, ground sumac, and red pepper powder. The combination of meat-filled dough with yoghurt differentiates it from other dumplings such as tortellini, ravioli, and Chinese wonton. Manti is usually eaten as a main dish.
Erite: home made pasta is called erite in Turkey. It can be combined with vegetables but it can also be used in soups and rice.
Kekek, a meat and wheat (or barley) stew.
Kuskus, the Turkish version of couscous, which can be served with any meat dish or stew.
A vegetable dish can be a main course in a Turkish meal. A large variety of vegetables is used, such as spinach, leek, cauliflower, artichoke, cabbage, celery, eggplant, green and red bell peppers, string bean and jerusalem artichoke. A typical vegetable dish is prepared with a base of chopped onions, carrots sauteed first in olive oil and later with tomatoes or tomato paste. The vegetables and hot water will then be added. Quite frequently a spoon of rice and lemon juice is also added. Vegetable dishes usually tend to be served with its own water (the cooking water) thus often called in colloquial Turkish sulu yemek literally "a dish with juice"). Minced meat can also be added to a vegetable dish but vegetable dishes that are cooked with olive oil (zeytinyaglilar) are often served cold and do not contain meat. Spinach, leek, string bean and artichoke with olive oil are among the most widespread dishes in Turkey.
Dolma is the name used for stuffed vegetables. Like the vegetables cooked with olive oil as described above dolma with olive oil does not contain meat. Many vegetables are stuffed, most typically green peppers (biber dolmasi), eggplants, tomatoes, courgettes, or Zucchini in the U.S. (kabak dolmasi), vine leaves (yaprak dolmasi). If vine leaves are used, they are first pickled in brine. However, dolma is not limited to these common types; many other vegetables and fruits are stuffed with a meat and/or rice mixture. For example, artichoke dolma (enginar dolmasi) is an Aegean region specialty. Fillings used in dolma may consist of parts of the vegetable carved out for preparation, rice with spices and/or minced meat.
Mercimek kofte, although being named kofte, does not contain any meat. Instead, red lentil is used as the major ingredient together with spring onion, tomato paste etc.
Imam bayildi is a version of karniyarik with no minced meat inside. It can be served as a meze as well.
Fried eggplant and pepper is a common summer dish in Turkey. It is served with yoghurt or tomato sauce and garlic.
Mucver is prepared with minced squash/courgette or potatoes, egg, dill and/or cheese and flour. It can be either fried or cooked in the oven.
Rice pilaf can be served either as a side dish or main dish but bulgur pilavi (pilav made of boiled and pounded wheat -bulgur) is also widely eaten. The dishes made with kuru fasulye (dried pulses and beans), such as nohut (chickpeas), mercimek (lentils), borulce (black-eyed peas), etc., combined with onion, vegetables, minced meat, tomato paste and rice, have always been common due to being economical and nutritious.
Turu is pickle made with brine, usually with the addition of garlic. It is often enjoyed as an appetizer. It is made with a large variety of vegetables, from cucumber to courgette. In the towns on the Aegean coast, the water of turu is consumed as a drink.
Menemen consists of scrambled eggs cooked with tomato and green pepper.
Cilbir is another traditional Turkish food made with eggs, yoghurt and oil.
Ispanakli yumurta consists of eggs with roasted spinach and onion.
Kaygana can be described as the omelet of Ottoman cuisine. However, it is almost forgotten in the big cities of Turkey. Kaygana, omelet prepared with flour, was combined with cheese, honey or eggplant.
Meze and salads
Meze is a selection of food served as the appetizer course with or without drinks. Some of them can be served as a main course as well.
Aside from olives, mature kaar kashar cheese, white cheese, various mixed pickles turu, frequently eaten Turkish mezes include;
Fried kofte (meatballs)
Arnavut cigeri (meaning "Albanian liver")
Fava (broad bean puree)
Cerkez tavugu (meaning "Circassian chicken")
Baba Gannu - Patlican salatasi (eggplant salad)
Acili ezme (hot spicy freshly mashed tomato with onion and green herbs)
Turp otu salatasi
Kopoglu (fried and chopped eggplants & peppers served with garlic yogurt)
Kabak Cicegi Dolmasi
Semizotu Salad (semiz plant served with yogurt)
Hardalotu (mustard plant salad)
In the coastal towns of Turkey, mezes prepared from seafood accompany fishes; kalamar, ahtapot (octopus salad), deniz borulcesi, midye dolma (mussels stuffed with rice) or karides guvec.
Dolma and sarma
Dolma is a verbal noun of the Turkish verb dolmak 'to be stuffed', and means simply 'stuffed thing'. Dolma has a special place in Turkish cuisine. It can be eaten either as a meze or a main dish. It can be cooked either as a vegetable dish or meat dish. If a meat mixture is put in, it is usually served hot with yoghurt and spices such as oregano and red pepper powder with oil.
Zeytinyagli dolma (dolma with olive oil) is the dolma made with vine leaves cooked with olive oil and stuffed with a rice-spice mixture. Such a type does not contain meat, is served cold and also referred to as sarma, which means "wrapping" in Turkish. The word "sarma" is also used for some types of desserts, such as fistik sarma (wrapped pistachio). If dolma does not contain meat, it is sometimes described as yalanci dolma meaning "fake" dolma. Dried fruit such as figs or cherries and cinnamon used to be added into the mixture to sweeten "zeytinyagli dolma" in Ottoman cuisine. Vine leaves("yaprak") could be filled not only with rice and spices but also with meat and rice, in which case it is served hot with yoghurt etli yaprak sarma.
Melon dolma along with quince or apple dolma was one of the palace's specialities . In contemporary Turkey, a wide variety of dolma is prepared. Although it is not possible to give an exhaustive list of dolma recipes, courgette ("kabak"), aubergine ("patlican"), tomato ("domates"), pumpkin ("balkabagi"), pepper ("biber"), cabbage ("lahana") (black or white cabbage), chard ("pazi") and mussel ("midye") dolma constitute the most common types. Instead of dried cherry in the palace cuisine, currants are usually added into the filling of dolma cooked in olive oil. A different type of dolma is mumbar dolmasi, for which the membrane of intestines of sheep is filled up with a spicy rice-nut mixture.
Si Kebap consists of marinated chicken or lamb meat. Meat on skewers are grilled over an open fire. Although every kind of helal meat is consumed, lamb from milk-fed lambs is especially favored. Fish cooked like shish kebab is also called fish shish.
Fistikli kebap (with pistachio)
Patlicanli kebap (Gaziantep's eggplant kebab)
Tokat kebabi (Tokat's eggplant kebab. Disputed with Sivas and Amasya)
Iskender kebab is a type of doner kebab originating from Bursa. Doner is derived from the Turkish verb donmek ("to turn"), as meat is cooked by turning it in front of a vertically positioned heat source. Doner meat can be eaten in a sandwich (pita or bread) but also with rice.
Other meat dishes
Kuzu guvec (lamb cooked in casserole)
Hunkar Begendi (meaning that the sovereign/sultan liked it, the dish consists of the puree of grilled aubergine with cashar cheese topped with cubed lamb meat.
Turlu is the mixture of vegetables and meat.
Incik (lamb on the bone cooked in the oven)
Coban kavurma ("kavurma" means roasting/parching in Turkish) is diced lamb cooked with or without tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, peppers and herbs.
The Turkish version of Moussaka is prepared with sauteed and fried eggplants, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, and minced meat. Often served with cacik and pilav. There are also variants with zucchini, carrots and potatoes.
Karniyarik is another eggplant dish. Eggplants are cut off and fried. Then they are filled with minced meat, onion, garlic and tomato paste and cooked in the oven.
Kofte (meatball) is another meat dish in Turkey. The word kofte is sometimes preceded by the name of a town, which refers to the technique for cooking it or the ingredients or spices specifically used in that region, for example; Inegol koftesi, Sultanahmet koftesi, Izmir kofte, Akcaabat kofte, Bursa kofte, Filibe kofte, Tire kofte, Islama kofte (mainly in Sakarya province) etc. Its main ingredients are minced meat, parsley, bread-egg and a range of spices: cumin, oregano, mint powder, red or black pepper powder with onion or garlic. Kadinbudu kofte is another traditional speciality; minced meat is mixed with cooked rice and fried. Icli kofte can be described as a shell of "bulgur" filled with onion, minced meat and nuts. Cig kofte is a meze from south-eastern Turkey meaning raw meatballs, prepared with "bulgur" and raw minced meat.
Sujuk (sucuk) is a form of raw sausage commonly eaten with breakfast. Instead of classical sausages (sosis), sujuk is the most used ingredient for snacks and fast-food style toasts and sandwiches in Turkey.
Pastirma is another famous beef delicacy (see pastrami). Both pastirma and sujuk can be put in kuru fasulye (dry beans) to enrich the aroma. Both can be served as a meze as well. Sucuk or pastirma with scrambled eggs, served in a small pan called sahan, is eaten at breakfast in Turkey.
Kokorec (the intestines of sheep) with spices is a traditional low-price fast food in Turkey.
Liver is fried in Turkish cuisine. "Arnavut cigeri", served with onion and sumac, is usually eaten as a meze, in combination with other mezes such as fava. "Edirne cigeri" is another famous liver dish from Edirne. Liver is first frozen so that it can be cut into very thin layers. After being cut off, liver layers are fried.
Roasted Sheep's Head Kelle
Turkey is surrounded by seas which contain a large variety of fish. Fish are grilled, fried or cooked slowly by the bugulama method. Bugulama is fish with lemon and parsley, covered while cooking so that it will be cooked with steam. The term pilaki is also used for fish cooked with various vegetables, including onion in the oven. In the Black Sea region, fish are usually fried with thick corn flour. Fish are also eaten cold; as smoked (isleme) or dried (ciroz), canned, salted or pickled (lakerda). Fish is also cooked in salt or in dough in Turkey. Pazida Levrek is a seafood speciality which consists of sea bass cooked in chard leaves. In fish restaurants, it is possible to find fancy fish varieties like balik dolma (stuffed fish) or balik iskender (inspired by Iskender kebab). Fish soup prepared with vegetables, onion and flour is common in coastal towns and cities. In Istanbul's Eminonu and other coastal districts, grilled fish served in bread with tomatoes, herbs and onion is a popular fast food. In the inner parts of Turkey, trout alabalik is common as it is the main type of freshwater fish.
Popular sea fishes in Turkey include: anchovy hamsi, sardine sardalya, bonito palamut, gilt-head bream cupra or cipura, red mullet barbun(ya), sea bass levrek, whiting mezgit (allied to the cod fish) or bakalyaro, swordfish kilic, turbot kalkan, red pandora mercan, tiranca, and white grouper lagos.English names for fish from Alan Davidson, Mediterranean Seafood, Penguin, 1972. ISBN 0-14-046174-4
One of the world-renowned desserts of Turkish cuisine is baklava. Baklava is made either with pistachio or with walnut. Turkish cuisine has a range of baklava-like desserts which include obiyet, bulbul yuvasi, saray sarmasi, sutlu nuriye, sari burma etc.
Kadaif ('Kadayif') is another very common Turkish dessert which differs from baklava in that shredded dough/phyllo is used. There are different types of kadaif: tel (wire) or burma (wring) kadayif, both of which can be prepared either with walnut or pistachio.
Although carrying the label "kadayif", ekmek kadayifi is totally different from "tel kadayif" . Kunefe and ekmek kadayifi are specialities rich in syrup and butter. Both are usually combined with kaymak (clotted/scrambled butter) when served. Kunefe contains wire kadayif with a layer of melted cheese in between and it is served hot with pistachio or walnut.
Among milk-based desserts, the most popular ones are muhallebi, sutlac (rice pudding), kekul, kazandibi (meaning the bottom of "kazan" because of its burnt surface), and tavuk gogsu .
Helva (halva): un helvasi (flour helva is usually cooked after someone has died), irmik helvasi (cooked with semolina and pine nuts), yaz helvasi (made from walnut or almond), tahin helvasi (crushed sesame seeds), kos helva, pimaniye (floss halva).
Other popular desserts include; Revani (with semolina and starch), ekerpare, kalburabasma, dilber dudagi, vezir parmagi, hanim gobegi, kemalpaa, tulumba, zerde, homerim, paluze, irmik tatlisi/peltesi, lokma.
Gullac is a "Ramadan" dessert which consists of very thin large dough layers put in the milk and rose water, served with pomegranate seeds and walnut. The story tells that in the cuisines of the Palace, those extra thin dough layers were prepared with "prayers" as it was believed that if one did not pray while opening phyllo dough, it would never be possible to obtain such thin layers.
Aure can be described as a sweet soup containing boiled beans, wheat and dried fruits. Sometimes cinnamon and rose water is added when being served. According to legend, it was first cooked on Noah's Ark and contained seven different ingredients in one dish. All the Anatolian peoples have cooked and are still cooking aure especially during the month of Muharrem.
Some traditional Turkish desserts are fruit-based: ayva tatlisi (quince), incir tatlisi (fig), kabak tatlisi (pumpkin), elma tatlisi(apple) and armut tatlisi(pear). Fruits are cooked in a pot or in the oven with sugar, carnation and cinnamon (without adding water). After being chilled, they are served with walnut or pistachio and kaymak.
Homemade cookies are commonly called kurabiye in Turkish. The most common types are acibadem kurabiyesi , un kurabiyesi (flour kurabiye) and cevizli kurabiye (kurabiye with walnut). Another dough based dessert is ay coregi.
Tahin-pekmez is a traditional combination especially in rural areas. Tahin is sesame paste and pekmez is grape syrup. These are sold separately and mixed before consumption.
Lokum (Turkish delight), which was eaten for digestion after meals and called "rahat hulkum" in the Ottoman era, is another well-known sweet/candy with a range of varieties.
Cezerye, cevizli (walnut) sucuk and pestil (fruit pestils) are among other common sweets.
Marzipan badem ezmesi or fistik ezmesi (made of ground pistachio) is another common confection in Turkey.
Another jelly like Turkish sweet is macun. Mesir macunu of Manisa/Izmir (which was also called "nevruziye" as this macun was distributed on the first day of spring in the Ottoman Palace) contains 41 different spices. It is still believed that "mesir macunu" is good for health and has healing effects. As with lokum, nane macunu (prepared with mint) used to be eaten as a digestive after heavy meals. Herbs and flowers having curative effects were grown in the gardens of Topkapi under the control of the chief doctor "hekimbai" and pharmacists of the Palace who used those herbs for preparing special types of macun and sherbet.
Dried fruit, used in dolma, pilav, meat dishes and other desserts is also eaten with almonds or walnuts as a dessert. Figs, grapes, apricots are the most widespread dried fruits.
Kaymak (clotted cream-butter) is often served with desserts to cut the sweetness.
Tea or Turkish coffee, with or without sugar, is usually served after dinner or more rarely together with desserts.
Although the majority of Turks profess the Islamic religion, alcoholic beverages are as widely available as in Europe. However, some Turks abstain from drinking alcohol during the holy month of Ramadan. There are a few local brands of lager such as Tekel Birasi, Marmara34 and Efes and a large variety of international beers that are produced in Turkey such as Skol, Beck's, Carlsberg and Tuborg.
There are a variety of local wines produced by Turkish brands such as Kavaklidere, Doluca, Corvus, Kayra, Pamukkale and Diren which are getting more popular with the change of climatic conditions that affect the production of wine. A range of grape varieties are grown in Turkey. For the production of red wine, the following types of grapes are mainly used; in Marmara Region, Pinot Noir, Adakarasi, Papazkarasi, Semillion, Kuntra, Gamay, Cinsault; in Aegean Region, Carignane, Calkarasi, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alicante Bouschet; in Black Sea Region and eastern part of the country, Okuzgozu, Bogazkere; in Central Anatolia, Kalecik Karasi, Papazkarasi, Dimrit; in Mediterranean Region, Sergi Karasi, Dimrit. As for white wine, the grapes can be listed as follows; in Marmara Region, Chardonnay, Riesling, Semillion, Beylerce, Yapincak; in Aegean Region, muscat and semillion; in Black Sea Region, Narince; in Central Anatolia, Emir, Hasandede . In addition to mass production, it is quite popular to produce wine in private farms and sell them in the locality. Visitors can find different "home made" wines in Central Anatolia (Kapadokya/Cappadocia region - Nevehir), Aegean coast (Selcuk and Bozcaada (an island in the Aegean Sea)).
Raki, a traditional alcoholic beverage flavoured with anise, is the usual drink with meze, fish or kebabs. As a matter of fact, the abolition of the monopoly of the state undertaking "TEKEL" on the production of alcoholic beverages spurred the production of Raki and wine in Turkey.
At breakfast and all day long Turkish people drink black tea. Tea is made with two teapots in Turkey. Strong bitter tea made in the upper pot is diluted by adding boiling water from the lower.
Ayran (salty yoghurt drink) is the most common cold beverage, which may accompany almost all dishes in Turkey.
Kefir is prepared with kefir grains and milk.
Salgam suyu (mild or hot turnip juice) is another important non-alcoholic beverage which is usually combined with kebabs.
Boza is a traditional winter drink, which is also known as millet wine (served cold with cinnamon and sometimes with leblebi).
Sahlep is another favorite in winter (served hot with cinnamon). Sahlep is extracted from the roots of wild orchids and may be used in Turkish ice cream as well. This was a popular drink in western Europe before coffee was brought from Africa and came to be known.
Serbet (sherbet) is a traditional Turkish sweet soft drink made of rose hips, cornelian cherries, rose, or licorice and spices. Some contemporary adaptations can be found at http://www.lezzet.com.tr/dosyalar/01205/.
In classical Turkish cuisine, alternatively Hoaf (komposto) accompanies meat dishes and pilav.
Turkish coffee is a world-known coffee which can be served sweet or bitter. In Turkish, there is a saying that emphasizes the importance in Turkish culture of offering a cup of coffee to someone: "a cup of coffee has a 40-year consideration". . It should also be noted that although Arabs call their coffee Turkish coffee, it is different in aroma and taste from the classical Turkish coffee.
Central Asian cuisine
Middle Eastern cuisine
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Halici Nevin, Konya Yemek Kulturu ve Konya Yemekleri, Istanbul 2005, ISBN 9756021160.
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